Cecilius Calvert founded Maryland and served as its first proprietor from 1632 until his death. A convert to Catholicism, he established the first legislation in the English world that guaranteed the right of any Christian to worship freely, without interference from secular authorities. Calvert was born on August 8, 1605, in Kent County, England, the first son of Sir George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. He attended Trinity College, Oxford, but left without a degree and converted to Catholicism in 1625.
In Britain, Catholicism was outlawed, though followers did not suffer severe persecution.
Photo Gallery Calvert, Cecilius 1605–1675
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George Calvert, one of the principal secretaries of state and also a Catholic convert, began to establish Catholic colonies in the New World with the permission of the British Crown. While his father traveled to America, Cecilius remained in England to manage the family businesses.
George began the process of obtaining a charter to settle land along Chesapeake Bay, but he died in 1632, just before Charles I granted it. Cecilius then became the second Lord Baltimore and inherited the proprietorship of the province of Maryland. Unlike other settlements, the primary aim of the Maryland patent was to advance the Calvert family fortune through land sales, not to add to the wealth of a group of shareholders.
Although he was the colony's founder, Calvert never visited Maryland. His status as proprietor was under constant threat from political rivals in England who challenged the validity of his charter, and Calvert believed that his time was best spent defending his interests at home. He sent his younger brother, Leonard, in his stead to serve as the colony's first governor.
While Calvert had intended Maryland to be a sanctuary for Catholics, his government did not officially support any religious denomination, and religion remained a private matter, not a public one. The charter invested the proprietor with nearly kinglike powers through which he attempted to re-create a little England. Calvert's goal was to give Maryland the economic, social, and political stability that other colonies usually lacked, and thereby ensure its survival and prosperity.
His charter enabled him to create a number of manors, self-contained administrative units based on the distribution of land to parties loyal to him. Despite Calvert's efforts, few settlers of any faith were interested in Maryland. It took him eighteen months to find the first group of 200 immigrants, who left Portsmouth for Maryland in November 1633.
Cecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, was the official founder and first proprietor of the colony of Maryland. He never set eyes on the colony, however, as he was too busy defending his possession against rivals in England. (Courtesy of Maryland Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Maryland) To make matters worse, the English Civil War hampered Calvert's efforts to establish a colony by giving agitators a religious excuse to attack Catholics.
Claiming authority from the Protestant Parliament, pirate Richard Ingle plundered Maryland in 1645 and sent the governor fleeing into Virginia. Maryland lay in chaos until December 1646, when Calvert regained control. To prevent this situation from being repeated, Calvert appointed a Protestant governor to replace his now-deceased brother, chose a Protestant Council of State (which formed the upper house of the Maryland General Assembly), and presented the assembly with a bill for religious tolerance in 1649.
Calvert's proposal anticipated the Bill of Rights in its provisions for religious tolerance and constitutes a landmark for its view of the proper purview of religious and political authorities. It prohibited intolerant language, as well as actions. The legislation extended only to Christians, excluding Native American and African religious beliefs.
With these measures, Calvert hoped to reduce tensions in the colony, as well as please Protestant authorities in England. Calvert's success at reducing religious tensions was short-lived. Puritans from Virginia, lured to settle in Maryland by Calvert in 1649, turned against him in a successful armed uprising in 1652.
Calvert, a man of formidable political skills, appealed to the government of Oliver Cromwell for assistance. In 1657, he was reinstated as proprietor by Cromwell, in return for which Calvert pardoned his opponents, who then accepted the Act Concerning Religion. The restoration of Charles II in 1660 brought a more relaxed attitude toward Catholics in England and English America.
Calvert's colony finally began to flourish. Blessed by mild weather and good soil, Maryland eventually grew rich with tobacco and slaves. Calvert died on November 30, 1675, near London, England, and left the proprietorship to his eldest son, Charles.
Cecilius Calvert envisioned Maryland as a replica of England, with large manors and a noble class, but additionally with freedom for a religiously pluralistic society. The Maryland that existed upon his death was a province of small tobacco farms dominated by Protestants. Calvert did succeed in establishing a prosperous colony, if not the colony that he had intended to create.
Caryn E.Neumann See also: Calvert, George (First Lord Baltimore); Catholic Church; Charles I; Maryland; Maryland (Chronology); Document: Maryland Toleration Act (1649). Bibliography Browne, William Hand.
George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert: Barons Baltimore of Baltimore. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1890 Krugler, John D.“ Lord Baltimore, Roman Catholics, and Toleration: Religious Policy During the Early Catholic Years, 16321649. ” Catholic Historical Review 65 (January 1979): 4975.
Calvert, George (First Lord Baltimore; c.15801632) Born about 1580 to a gentry family in Kiplin, Yorkshire, George Calvert was educated at Oxford and sent on a grand tour of Europe to prepare him for a career of service to the British Crown. A friend of Secretary of State Robert Cecil, Calvert became Cecil's personal secretary before being made a clerk of the Privy Council and elected to a seat in the House of Commons in 1609.
Calvert became a trusted friend of James I, valued for his support of the king's pro-Spanish policies and refusal to be drawn into the Thirty Years' War on behalf of the Palatinate, a German principality opposed to the Spanish Crown. James I sent Calvert on several sensitive missions as his representative, including an assignment to negotiate with France and to compile a report on the progress of Protestant settlement in Ireland. Calvert returned to Ireland as a commissioner empowered to hear Irish grievances against the government and English settlers.
In recognition for these services, he was knighted in 1617 and given both a 2,000 pound pension from customs revenue in 1620 and a 2,300-acre Irish estate the following year, although Calvert refused the estate unless the king agreed that settlers and tenants could be Roman Catholic, a condition James I conceded. In 1625, Calvert announced his conversion to Roman Catholicism, a decision that put him on the outside of English power and politics, despite his being raised to the Irish peerage as Baron Baltimore by James I.In order to keep Calvert at court, Charles I offered to waive the obligatory oath of religious allegiance, but Calvert chose to leave and instead pursue his interest in the New World.
An investor in the East India Company and the Virginia Company, Calvert purchased a patent for a colony in Newfoundland for the sum of 25, 000 pounds in 1620. The patent gave Calvert distinctly feudal rights to the area, perhaps as a royal rebuke to the self-governing tendencies of Virginia and Massachusetts Bay. To encourage settlement, Calvert and his wife visited the colony, named Avalon, and its port, Fairyland, in 1627.
They discovered that the climate and resources were poor and the life of the settlers a subsistence struggle, especially as the French disrupted local cod fishing as an act of war against England. During his return trip to England, Calvert visited Virginia, where he scouted locations for a better patent, choosing the upper reaches of Chesapeake Bay. Virginians were horrified at the prospect of a Roman Catholic colony as a neighbor and protested vehemently.
Charles I, however, granted the patent, naming the new land Terra Maria after his Catholic queen, Henrietta Maria, as well as for the Virgin Mary. The royal patent defined the boundaries of the 6,769, 290-acre grant as along the 40th parallel from the Atlantic Ocean to the first fountain of the Potomac River, south to the Chesapeake Bay, then east to the Atlantic Ocean, a vague enough construction to busy lawyers for a generation. The patent gave Calvert the same palatinate powers he enjoyed in Newfoundland, setting Maryland apart from other colonies and making the Calverts lords proprietor.
Calvert never enjoyed this dignity himself, as he died on April 6, 1632, shortly before the patent formally passed the royal seals. Margaret Sankey See also: Calvert, Cecilius; Catholic Church; Charles I; Chesapeake; East India Company; James I; Maryland; Maryland (Chronology); Virginia Company; Document: Maryland Toleration Act (1649). Bibliography Browne, William Hand.
George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert, Barons Baltimore of Baltimore. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1890. Codignola, Luca.
The Coldest Harbor of the Land: Simon Stock and Lord Baltimore's Colony in Newfoundland, 16211649. Kingston, Ontario, Canada: McGillQueen's University Press, 1988. Foster, James W.
George Calvert: The Early Years. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1983. Cecil Calvert – Cecil Calvert, also known as Lord Baltimore … travelquaz
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